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By The Drum, Editorial

November 27, 2023 | 8 min read

Liverpool City Council won in the Travel, Leisure and Sport category at The Drum Awards for Experience for its work as the host city for Eurovision 2023. Here’s what went into the work...

On 7 October 2022, Liverpool was confirmed as the host city for Eurovision 2023. Eurovision fever gripped everyone in Liverpool. We were the host city for the biggest event in the global music calendar.

It was a perfect match. Liverpool invented pop music. We never need a good reason to party. And like Eurovision, you’re never sure what you’re going to get.

The real reason the UK was hosting Eurovision was never far away from our thoughts. Ukraine, who won the 2022 contest, couldn’t host due to the war with Russia.

The challenge? Deliver the best ever Eurovision and visitor experience in six months, show solidarity with Ukraine and its people and celebrate the country’s music and culture.

We agreed three objectives.

- Welcome visitors in unique Liverpool way

- Put Ukrainian music and culture at the heart of everything we do - Create a positive lasting impact for local people and business

Welcome visitors in uniquely Liverpool way

Our work really began after the official handover event in January. We’d been in touch with other host cities - Turin, Tel Aviv, Lisbon and knew tickets for shows would far outstrip availability.

We wanted to capture the hearts of everyone who visited Liverpool and give them an experience they’ll never forget, creating a connection with the city’s lifestyle, music and culture. It was crucial everyone could experience Eurovision and the visitor experience plan focussed on ensuring Eurovision was a music and cultural festival that everyone could enjoy. Ticket or not.

We believe great event experiences begin long before the first visitor arrives. We built excitement with countdown moments, teasers, destination inspiration for ticket holders and superfans. The plan was focussed a number of key touchpoints.

City branding

The physical transformation of the city really symbolised our welcome. We wanted a vivid expression of the Eurovision brand that captured the energy of the event and the creativity of the host city. Train and bus stations, airports, taxis were all key touchpoints and used to welcome

artists and fans with unique musical experiences. A modern, playful takeover of the city’s

artists and fans with unique musical experiences. A modern, playful takeover of the city’s architecture and infrastructure.


Welcoming artists, visitors, superfans in spontaneous, creative ways was a major part of the experience. We welcomed artists, delegations and visitors with a party atmosphere at the city’s train station and airport. Dancers, musicians, Ukrainian flags and more glitter than you can imagine made these once in lifetime moments. It also included TikTok takeover of the city’s busking locations - an opportunity for musicians to be part of Eurovision and perform in front of thousands of visitors to the city.


Working with sponsors, local businesses and the highways department, we thought a lot about navigating people around the city. We needed information at strategic points with clear, identified routes with distances and times and using the brand identity as a visual language to orientate visitors.

Eurovision Village

Music is part of the streets, clubs, pubs and bedrooms in Liverpool. The Euro Village was at the heart of the city’s Eurovision experience. It played host to 100 acts including Vengaboys, Jedward, Sonia, Katrina & The Waves. 250,000 people visited over 8 days. We worked really closely with OGAE International (Eurovision superfans) to create an experience where they could be themselves in a safe, fabulous environment.

Put Ukrainian music and culture at the heart of everything we do

Hosting Eurovision on behalf of Ukraine was an amazing honour. It was vital to show solidarity with the people of Ukraine and celebrate their music and culture in a joyful and sensitive way.

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Boy did we go over the top. Every single cultural institution in the city was involved in delivering a diverse festival of colourful events. Euro Festival was a programme of 24 collaborations with artists and collectives from Ukraine that put the country’s culture at the heart of Eurovision 2023 and touched everyone who came to the event.

Some of the highlights:

Rave Ukraine - a simultaneous 10 hour rave in Liverpool and Kyiv

EuroCamp - three-day festival celebrating drag, performance, vogue, music

Soloveiko Songbirds - 12 huge light-up nightingales, each with its own original ‘soundscape’ from a different part of Ukraine

Protect the Beats - Nelson's Monument being surrounded by thousands of sandbags to replicate the way statues in Ukraine's monuments and public art are being shielded from bombardment. ENO Does Eurovision - Eurovision contestants and international opera stars performed some of the Song Contest’s greatest hits

“Walking around here, people are so interested in Ukraine and our culture. It has warmed my heart”

Maryna, Ukrainian refugee

“If you can walk around Liverpool and not be moved by what you see, then there is something wrong with you. The entire city — the home of the Beatles, which practically lives and breathes music and culture — is draped in Ukrainian flags. I even saw some plastic garbage bins outside a restaurant, which were neatly arranged in blue and yellow formation. It almost feels like Ukraine has been brought to England for one week” Rolling Stone Magazine

Create a positive lasting impact for local people and business

Our role was to inspire the city to release its imagination and create their own Eurovision experiences. An extensive outreach programme and brand toolkit unleashed the city’s creativity. It was everything we dreamed it would be. The city came alive with street parties, window displays, school and community collaborations, visitor experiences, special menus and cocktails.

- John Lewis held Sophie Ellis Bextor’s Kitchen Disco in the kitchen department

- Schoolkids took part in lip-sync battles and made Eurovision inspired music videos

- 450 kids from Liverpool and Ukraine designing kites and flying them over the city and in four locations across Ukraine

Our tourist information team and volunteers were crucial to the visitor experience. We created a campaign to recruit 500 volunteers providing visitor information and giving an unforgettable scouse welcome and great first impression to everyone who came to the city for those two weeks.

Final thoughts

There was no handbook for delivering Eurovision.

Liverpool’s ambitious welcome experience was celebrated by BBC and EBU as an essential part of 2023 being declared ‘the best Eurovision ever’. Eurovision fans said they’d never experienced anything like the welcome they received in Liverpool.

Sometimes things just feel right. Liverpool hosting Eurovision on behalf of Ukraine and the UK was one of those moments.

Read more award-winning stories over on The Drum Awards Case Studies hub.

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